Apple sued over non-release of iPhone safety feature

Distracted driving accidents are becoming more common in Pennsylvania and around the country as smartphones continue to grow in popularity, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has asked the manufacturers of these devices to incorporate features that would make dangerous activities like texting and driving more difficult. Companies like Samsung and LG have yet to respond to the federal safety agency, but litigation filed in California indicates that Apple may already be in possession of such a feature.

A class action lawsuit has revealed that the technology giant developed a texting lockout feature for drivers in 2008 but chose not to release it. Apple received a patent for the feature in 2014 according to the litigation. The plaintiffs want the company to release the feature without delay and make it available to those who have already purchased an iPhone.

The case will likely hinge on whether or not an increase in distracted driving accidents was a foreseeable consequence of not releasing the safety feature. Apple’s attorneys may argue that the feature was held back due to technical issues, but experts feel that the numbers involved could be difficult to for them to overcome. Apple’s iPhone accounts for 40 percent of U.S. smartphone sales, and a study from the National Safety Council concluded that about one in four U.S. car accidents involves a texting driver.

Lawsuits of this type can be ruinously expensive to litigate, but many are resolved at the negotiating table. This is because companies that have spent millions building their brand names and reputations have much at stake, and experienced personal injury attorneys may caution them against taking their chances in front of a jury by pointing out that losing in court could lead to many more claims being filed against them.